Walnut Canyon National Monument Travel Guide

  • Overlook to Island Trail
    Overlook to Island Trail
    by razorbacker
  • Boulders in time.
    Boulders in time.
    by razorbacker
  • Cliff dwellings across valley.
    Cliff dwellings across valley.
    by razorbacker

Walnut Canyon National Monument Things to Do

  • Island Trail Ruins.

    Fascinating glimpse into an ancient long-gone community. You can truly FEEL the difference between the shady side and the community more sun-washed. This is another of the pueblos developed by the pre-Columbian Sinaguas on their long migration north to the Hopi mesas. A horseshoe bend carved by Walnut Canyon's river far below created a stone...

  • Walnut Canyons are Deep

    The more spectacular scenery is the sheer cliffs and sharp drop offs to the bottom of the canyon. Walnut Creek carved out a path along he rock walls 600+ feet down. The greenery and vegetation are wonderful. There are a number of canyons where the water flow carved out and meandered until it met with other canyon flows. The park is 10 miles by 20...

  • Rim trail hike

    This was an easy hike on flat ground along the rim for a way, then through the woods and shrubs. It is 3/4 mile hike. You go by some 3-4 Indian ruins along the way. This is is the wooded area, but most is fairly open paths. The first part is paved asphalt

  • Island Trail Hike

    This is the main hike to see the dwelling ruins in the cliff ledges. It is a loop trail that goes for 1 mile and takes about 25-30 while viewing the dwellings. There are 25 rooms along the edge. the trail has railings for safety and needed. the drop off at the 7,000 feet level can be treacherous. The trail descends 185 feet and of course goes back...

  • Helpful Rangers at Walnut Canyon

    Stop by the Visitor Center before doing any trails. My family enjoyed going through the exhibits and my 5 year old twins liked seeing how the different animals leave their footprints – they have footprint casts that you put on the sand which differentiate the coyote, skunk, ravens, and so on…You also get to realize how little we know of the...

  • Foot Trails at Walnut Canyon

    There are 2 paved foot trails which begin at the Visitor Center:1. The Island Trail which is a 0.9 mile loop, passes 25 of the cliff dwelling rooms and it also has sheer drops and a 185-foot climb (240 steps) back to the canyon rim. 2. The Rim Trail which is a 0.7 mile loop and overlooks the canyon and passes the ruins of rimtop structures.The park...

  • Meet Your Fellow Travellers

    Therese was not a local but a transplant from Ohio who was helping clear up the rockslide. I sure did not envy her and the other volunteers carrying buckets of rocks and rebar up the 240 steps from the cliff dwellings to the parking area.

  • View the Wildlife

    A number of species of wildlife call Walnut Canyon home. However, I was not there at the best time to observe it. I did see this large bird that appeared to be keeping an eye on me.

  • Have a Picnic

    There are a few areas in the park where you can enjoy a nice picnic lunch in beautiful surroundings.

  • Pueblo Dwellings

    There were also a few Pueblo Style Dwellings on top of the ridge near the canyon. You can access these via a short trail leading from the parking area.

  • Cliff Dwellings Across the Canyon

    You can also see several cliff/cave dwellings across the canyon. This gives you a better idea how the Sinagua blended them into the environment and made use of the natural resources.

  • See the Cliff Dwellings Close Up

    There are about 25 rooms of cliff/cave dwellings along the River Island Trail. You can walk right up to them and examine them closely. Please treat them gently though. On Photo 4 you may notice a blackening on the cave walls. This is from the cooking fires.

  • Walnut Canyon

    Walnut Canyon is a long series of narrow canyons with very rough terrain. The presence of water in this normally dry area made the canyon a rare and valuable location for the early human inhabitants, and a variety of plants and animals. The canyon’s natural abundance and diversity provided home sites, building materials, and a storehouse of foods,...

  • Walnut Canyon Museum

    The museum inside the visitors center for Walnut Canyon National Monument has several displays about the area, the Sinagua who settled in the area in the 1200s, and the tribes in the area today.

  • Visitors Center

    Your first stop at Walnut Canyon National Monument should be the visitors center. The visitors center houses very helpful park rangers who can provide you with park brochures and can give you information about the park and the surrounding area to help make your visit more enjoyable. There is also a small museum and a gift shop in the center.

  • background reading: Walker of Time

    You can pick up booklets about the Sinagua people and Walnut Canyon in the Visitor's Center but they will pale in comparison with Helen Hughes Vick's imaginative fiction. "Walker of Time" is the first book in a trilogy about a 15 year old Hopi boy who is transported back in time to the days when Walnut Canyon was alive with his ancestors. Vick...

  • guided tour

    Between Memorial Day and Labor Day you can take advantage of two guided backcountry hikes that visit some of the more remote cliff dwellings. These are by reservation only and come in two flavors: 1) Saturdays @ 10am - LEDGE HIKE 3 hour hike. Strenuous; 2) Sundays and Thursdays @ 10am - RANGER CABIN WALK 2 hour hike. Easy.If you read "Walker of...


    After accustomizing yourself to what the cliff dwellings look like, you can begin to pick out other dwellings in the surrounding cliff walls as well. There is a ranger-led Ledge Tour that is given which you can get reservations for, in order to visit other dwellings.


    Similar to castles in Europe, the doors of the Sinaguan people point to a people much shorter in stature than that of most of us today.


    As you walk by dwellings on the Island Trail you can see how the Sinaguans used the natural alcoves in the cliffs as walls for their houses. They only had to add a front wall and viola.


    After seeing the Visitor Center, descend on the Island Trail which is just less than a mile roundtrip - 185 feet/56 meters down and up. The canyon is beautiful with pines crowding the rim and many rock layers can be noted as the canyon increases in depth. Scan the layers for evidence of the dwellings. Besides the 25 rooms visited by the Island...


Walnut Canyon National Monument Transportation

  • Stay on the Main Highway

    I thought it would be adventuresome to take the back way to the park; US old 66. Well form Hwy 89 and turning onto Rte 66 was a trip. The road became rough and was gravel for about 6-7 miles. That was washboard riding all the way. Who knew they would not maintain that road well?

  • Let those Feets do Some Walking

    The elevation here is 6690 feet/2039 meters, so take that into consideration before plunging down into the canyon. There are 240 steps to come back up. Take your time. Go early in the day.

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Walnut Canyon National Monument Warnings and Dangers

  • Damage

    You do not see the cliff dwelling in this picture because it was damaged by people collecting souvenirs before Walnut Canyon was officially protected. Please leave the ruins as they are and get your souvenirs at the gift shop (or take lots of pictures). It is illegal to remove any artifact from this park.

  • Warning Signs

    You will see warning signs at various locations around the park. They are there to protect the ruins and for your safety, please obey them and stay out of restricted areas and on the paths.

  • Don't Forget Insurance

    If your current health insurance doesn't cover you while your abroad, you should consider getting international travel insurance just in case something should go wrong.

Walnut Canyon National Monument Sports & Outdoors

  • Rim Trail

    If you don't feel quite up to the Rock Island Trail then you can try the Rim Trail. The Rim Trail is a .7 mile paved trail with interpretive signs informing you about the plants and animals in the area, the formation of Walnut Canyon starting 265 million years ago. The trail is flat and wheelchair accessible.

  • Rock Island Trail

    Although the Rock Island Trail is only a one mile loop it descends over 185 feet and is quite steep in places. The trail hugs the cliff and has 240 steps. Make sure you are ready for the trail and pace yourself. If you are from a lower elevation, also keep in mind that you are at about 6700 feet. If you take these precautions, the hike is well...

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